Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke remotely at the Information Center’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington on Monday, where he talked about privacy, guarding customer information, and the company’s view on encryption. Cook was being honored, along with three others, by EPIC for his work as a corporate leader.
“Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security,” Cook opened. “We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.”
In Cook’s passionate speech, while not specifically naming them, he threw barbs at companies like Google and Facebook, which rely on collecting data from their users in order to serve up targeted advertising.
“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost. This is especially true now that we’re storing data about our health, our finances and our homes on our devices,” Cook went on. “We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”
Cook then talked about encryption, directly referencing the attempts to force Apple to offer up a “master key” that would allow government and law enforcement agencies to access the data on iOS devices. Cook termed such efforts as “dangerous.”
“We think this is incredibly dangerous. We’ve been offering encryption tools in our products for years, and we’re going to stay on that path. We think it’s a critical feature for our customers who want to keep their data secure. For years we’ve offered encryption services like iMessage and FaceTime because we believe the contents of your text messages and your video chats is none of our business.”
“If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too. Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people’s accounts. If they know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it,” Cook continued.
Cook went on to say that while Apple has a deep respect for law enforcement, weakening or removing encryption “harms good people that are using it for the right reasons. And ultimately, I believe it has a chilling effect on our First Amendment rights and undermines our country’s founding principles.”
TechCrunch has more details about the speech available at their website.